UFU issues ‘safety first’ warning

With one of the busiest periods in the farming calendar underway coupled with the extremely hot weather, the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is urging farmers to take extra care when mixing slurry.
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Mixing slurry is one of the most hazardous tasks for a farmer due to the toxic fumes released.

UFU deputy president William Irvine said: “Mixing slurry is an extremely dangerous job, but even more so when temperatures are high like what we have been experiencing this past week

“Slurry gas contains poisonous hydrogen sulphide and releases very quickly in large volumes when mixing begins. This is why slurry should only be mixed when doors and windows are open and when there are high winds so fumes can be dispersed in the air.

Target slurry spreading onto silage fields that have tested low for phosphate and potashTarget slurry spreading onto silage fields that have tested low for phosphate and potash
Target slurry spreading onto silage fields that have tested low for phosphate and potash

“The first 30 minutes of mixing are the most dangerous for both the farmer and animals. If animals are housed, move them from the shed before you begin mixing, and take yourself away from the shed as soon as it begins.

“If you have to go into the building during mixing, it is vital that farmers inform a family member or an adult when they are working with slurry to ensure help is close at hand if needed.”

The UFU says it understands that with lengthy to-do lists and time constraints, farmers can begin work without thinking if they are doing so in the safest way, just to get the job done. However, it’s vital that farmers always put their wellbeing first and follow the advice of the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) when working with slurry.

“With the weather onside, farmers are trying to get as much done as they can and we are all guilty of letting our safety slip down the priority list when we are under pressure. But it is vital that farmers get into the positive habit of taking time to think about what they are doing and to ensure they are doing it in the safest way possible before doing any task on farm,” added Mr Irvine.

“I urge members not to take any risks when mixing slurry regardless of the reason, because in doing so, you will be putting your life at risk. The HSENI has advice on how to work in the safest way possible when mixing slurry and I encourage farmers to take advantage of these guidelines which are available online,” said Mr Irvine.

Please use the following link to view HSENI’s guidelines on working safely with slurry: https://www.hseni.gov.uk/articles/slurry-working-safely-slurry.